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The Science of Skydiving: How Fast, How Long, and the Thrill of Freefall

Skydiving is not just an activity; it’s an adventure that thrusts you into the boundless sky, offering a unique perspective on the world below. Many are drawn to the exhilaration of freefall, and the burning question on everyone’s mind is, “How fast do you fall when skydiving?” Let’s break it down in simple terms – we’ll talk about terminal velocity, how long you freefall, and the science that makes skydiving such a thrilling and heart-pounding experience.

Understanding Freefall Speed and Terminal Velocity

The journey into the world of skydiving begins with the anticipation of the initial freefall. As a skydiver plummets towards the Earth, gravity takes center stage. They speed up until they hit a point called terminal velocity. This is when they stop getting faster because the gravity pulling them down is balanced by the air pushing them back up.

In a classic belly-to-earth position, skydivers reach an average terminal velocity of around 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour). The duration to reach this speed is approximately 12 seconds, providing a short yet intense burst of acceleration from zero to terminal velocity.

tandem skydiving

How Long Do You Freefall When Skydiving?

The duration of freefall during a skydive varies based on the altitude of the jump. On average, it ranges from 35 to 60 seconds, offering an adrenaline-packed experience that feels both timeless and fleeting. The entire skydiving journey, including freefall, parachute deployment, and descent, typically lasts between 5 to 7 minutes.

Factors Influencing the Speed of your Skydive:

  1. Body Position: The art of freefall involves adopting different body positions. While a belly-to-earth position maximizes stability, other positions like sit-flying or head-down can significantly increase the rate of descent.
  2. Weight: The weight of the skydiver also plays a big role, with heavier individuals experiencing slightly faster speeds. With the same air resistance and more gravity force pulling you down, heavier people fall faster.  When you move on to solo jumping you can use a jump suit to help match your fall rate with your friends.
  3. Altitude: The altitude of the jump significantly affects both freefall duration and speed. Higher altitudes provide more time in freefall, but also makes you go faster with less air holding you back at higher altitudes. 

Skydiving: Adventure on a Clock!

Once you jump out of the plane and until the parachute opens up, the entire skydiving journey happens quite quickly. For most people, the best part is the freefall, but the controlled descent and parachute ride also add to the fun adventure.

The Parachute’s Role and Canopy Ride:

After hitting terminal velocity, the next step is opening the parachute. The parachute serves as a crucial safety mechanism, allowing the skydiver to transition from a high-speed freefall to a controlled descent. It’s not just about landing safely but also enjoying the awesome views that every iSkydive America location has to offer.

canopy ride over jacksonville


To sum up, the speed and duration of freefall in a skydive are influenced by various factors like gravity, air resistance, body position, weight, and altitude. Exploring the science behind the thrill can enhance your experience as you dive into the world of skydiving, making each jump a unique and enjoyable adventure.

Whether you’re a seasoned skydiver or someone contemplating their first jump, the blend of science, adrenaline, and breathtaking views make skydiving an unparalleled adventure. So, the next time someone wonders, “How fast do you fall when skydiving?” you can confidently share the intricacies of the science behind the speed and duration, adding an extra layer of appreciation to this heart-pounding activity. Embrace the thrill, conquer the skies, and relish the moments of freefall that defy both gravity and expectation.

Are you ready to swap ordinary for extraordinary and experience the unmatched thrill of tandem skydiving with iSkydive America?